Coronavirus Singapore

Movement curbs on workers in dorms to be eased further

Restrictions on the movement of vaccinated migrant workers living in dorms will be eased further from next weekend.

That is when up to 3,000 vaccinated migrant workers will be able to visit Little India and Geylang Serai every week for up to eight hours at a time, the Manpower Ministry (MOM) said in a statement yesterday.

It added that only workers residing in dormitory blocks without Covid-19 clusters will be eligible to sign up for these community visits.

These dormitories must also have implemented proper safety measures and have workers with high vaccination rates.

Migrant workers participating in the community visits will be required to take an antigen rapid test (ART) on the day of the visit, MOM added.

The expansion in numbers comes after a pilot community visit programme last month, when up to 500 fully vaccinated migrant workers living in dormitories were allowed to visit stipulated locations in the community each week.

By the end of the pilot, about 700 workers from 30 dorms had visited Little India, MOM said.

The weekly visits lasted up to six hours and the dorms that the workers came from were required to have had no Covid-19 cases in the previous two weeks.

The workers were also required to take ARTs before and after the visits.

MOM said it is expanding the community visit initiative in response to its poll of the migrant workers, most of whom said they were satisfied with the itineraries and arrangements for the visits.

Feedback they provided indicated that they would like visits to be longer, with more options on the places they can go, it added.

MOM yesterday said it will also ease restrictions for visits to recreation centres, which all vaccinated migrant workers will be able to visit up to three times a week.

Recreation centres have facilities for migrant workers to buy necessities, get a haircut and remit money home.

The centres also have food and beverage outlets, mini-marts and communal facilities.

Workers can visit only the centre assigned to their dorms.

There are eight such recreation centres across the island in places like Kranji, Tuas, Woodlands and Kaki Bukit - built over the years to serve dormitory residents.

To visit recreation centres, vaccinated workers will no longer be required to undergo a pre-visit ART.

If a migrant worker is unvaccinated, he will be able to visit recreation centres up to three times a week if he obtains a negative ART result during the rostered routine testing regime or pre-visit ART.

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng on Thursday said more than 97 per cent of migrant workers in dormitories have been fully vaccinated.

Mr Jasim Uddin, 33, who is from Bangladesh and has been working in the Singapore construction sector for 14 years, said that although he is fully vaccinated, he is not in a rush to visit Little India any time soon. "You need to register to go for the visits, which can be a troublesome process. I will go when we don't need to register anymore."

Mr Miah Md Bachchu, 35, a construction safety supervisor who has been working in Singapore for 11 years and is fully vaccinated, said he is keen to get out of the dorm for some leisure time.

"I've only gone out twice since March last year - once to Little India and the second time last month, to the Bangladesh embassy."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2021, with the headline 'Movement curbs on workers in dorms to be eased further'. Subscribe